Judd Vinet started working a minimalist Linux operating system (Arch Linux) in March 2002. Arch Linux is developed for 32-bit and 64-bit microprocessor architectures with a focus to yield maximum throughput from modern hardware systems. It is a lightweight, efficient and easy to use because of its architectural simplicity. A package manager “Pacman” is used to install various packages on the system. An arch build system is also provided for automated source compilation through ports/ebuild like utility.
Arch Linux 2015.5.1 has updates for all of the softwares/applications bundled and released in the previous release. Arch Linux has the latest kernel 4.0.1 and it is the first ISO image based on the latest kernel.
Installing Arch Linux 2015.5.1
Arch Linux is distributed as a dual ISO image, single ISO image contains packages for both 32-bit as well as 64-bit architectures. Users can download new Aarch ISO image from the following source for fresh install whereas existing users do not need the new ISO image to update their packages.
Download the desired bootable ISO image of Arch Linux and flash it to USB or burn it onto CD/DVD and boot the system.
After pressing the ENTER key installer program will decompress the files and an SSH prompt with root privileges will appear for further configuration.
Make sure the internet connection is working fine.
Installing Arch Linux comprises of three major sections
1. Disk partition layout
Run the following command to check current disk partition properties.
We are installing Arch Linux in cloud environment where virtual partitions can be created on one physical disk partition so it is only one disk partition in reality.
If installing Arch Linux on a system with full access to the physical disk or RAID we need to create the partitions in of our own choice but there are few rules to create specific disk partitions.
- /dev/sda1 for /root it should be formatted using ext4 file system.
- /dev/sda2 for Swap (Swap partition is generally double the size of RAM on the system)
- /dev/sda5 for home partition, it should have the most disk space and should be formatted using ext4 file system.
Following command can be used to create various partitions.
Create new partition in the free space.
Once all the partitions are created run the following commad to confirm the partition scheme.
Here is the current partition scheme on our cloud system.
Now if you are not installing in virtual environment, run the following commands to format your root and home partitions with EXT4 filesystem.
mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda1 mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda5
Now it is time to initialize SWAP partition using the following commands.
mkswap /dev/sda2 swapon /dev/sda2
2. Install Arch base system
Both the partitions need to be mounted before we can access it for installing the Aarch system. Directories to which the partitions are mounted can have any name but there are few general conventions which are often followed for simplicity in configuration. We are mounting /dev/sda1 to /mnt and /dev/sda5 to /mnt/home using the following commands.
mount /dev/sda1 /mnt mkdir /mnt/home mount /dev/sda5 /mnt/home
Once the partitions are mounted, we can proceed with installation but before that we need to prioritize the mirrors for quickly downloading packages. So edit the /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist using your favorite editor, we use “vi” editor.
Now please use the following command to install Arch Linux.
pacstrap -i /mnt base base-devel
This process may take few minutes to complete.
Now that packages are installed we need to edit /mnt/etc/fstab to make sure that system boots from /mnt partition. It is the fstab file which contains commands/rules which are required to execute as soon as system boots up. Following command will create the fstab file if not already and appends a rule to use /mnt as boot sector.
genfstab –U –p /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab
3. System Configuration
Select the Language on your newly setup system for user interface by uncommenting language of your choice from /mnt/etc/locale.gen. Use your favorite editor e.g vi editor.
Furthermore, set the LANG variable for the language of your choice (English US in this case) using the following commands.
locale-gen echo LANG=en_US.UTF-8 > /etc/locale.conf export LANG=en_US.UTF-8
Configuring time zone on the system is next very important task. This can be achieved by creating a symbolic link using the following command.
ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/US/Bucharset /etc/localtime
Root user login details must also be configured explicitly and add it to wheel group so that sudo can be used with limited time root privileges. Type the following commands to setup the root user.
passwd useradd -mg users -G wheel,storage,power -s /bin/bash your_new_user passwd your_new_us
Root user requires the sudo package which can be done using pacman.
pacman -S sudo
Now add the root in the list of sudoers. Edit the sudoers file and uncomment the mentioned line in following image.
Lastly we need to load the boot loader so that system may boot up properly next time. Default boot loader used to be LILO but it is now GRUB for almost all flavors of Linux. Boot loader is the first location of the hard disk of a system, it contains the preliminary information of the operating system or a small program to show the choice for operating system selection in case of dual boot. Let’s run the following commands to make the system to load Aarch at boot time.
pacman -S grub grub-install /dev/sda pacman -S os-prober grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
Congratulations! Arch Linux has been successfully installed.
Arch Linux 2015.5.1 has the latest Linux kernel which sets it apart from other Linux flavors at this time. It may appear to be a little complex which needs some testing skills from end users but it gives the feel of configuring the entire operating system with your hands. Arch Linux is open source and free to install and customize. Advance users are encouraged to read more information about Arch Linux from the official website.